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Connecting, Updates, Prayer and Palm/Passion Sunday

Here we are, in April, beginning  another month of sheltering in place. What a time we are living through! 

Even in the midst of this there are blessings. Among them has been the blessing of communicating with you through social media: worshiping, studying, praying and yes, even sharing birthday celebrations and happy hours together.

I am grateful to the virtual teams within our faith community, rising up to offer all kinds of support within and beyond us. I hope you were able to join the zoom crowd who worshiped online this week. If you missed it, you can find it here on our website.  Many of us are using zoom for the first time, and here’s a helpful tutorial to get started.  You can always call me on my cell phone! All of our computers are facing buffering challenges due to the overload on various platforms and the internet in general, please be patient.  

Last Sunday, the 29th of March, I lifted up the theme of grief, so I want to offer a helpful article for you to better understand your own experience of grief. 

Please continue to check our weekly email, our  Facebook  page, and our website for updates.    

This Sunday is Palm/Passion Sunday— please find a palm, or a leafy branch, or a symbol of gratitude for praising the heroes of our time, and bring it with you for our service.  And, before you sit down to participate in the Zoom service (here’s the link), please have ready nearby elements of food and drink to share in our agape meal, remembering Jesus and all those we love that we wish were here with us, and all those in need, especially during the pandemic.  Finally, David G. is leading a Zoom Children’s time at 11:30 – read more here.

Prayer for today:

You have been our strength, O God.
At the beginning of the day you brought us from darkness into light.
At the ending of the day you lead us from busyness into stillness.
In earth’s cycles and seasons you offer us new life and fresh beginnings.
Be our strength this day and the strength of new beginnings in our world.
Be our help, O God, and the help of those who cry out in need.
~ by John Philip Newell, excerpt from Celtic Treasure: Daily Scriptures and Prayer

Prayer in music & videos:

Inspiration

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praying in Crisis, Holding Back Nothing from God

Dear Ones,

We are in the season of praying in crisis, holding back nothing from the God who invites us to come, naked and vulnerable, just as we are, holding nothing back from the One who loves and knows us better than we know ourselves  Be encouraged in your time of prayer in the days ahead. I encourage you to join us for 1 PM contemplative prayer on Friday: Zoom Meeting, Meeting ID: 910 815 155, or just call me!

There is a beautiful poem, which captures the essence of intimate, naked vulnerability before God in prayer, entitled the Guest House, by the Sufi poet, Rumi, 

I leave you with Rumi’s words:

Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

“Be the Loving Embrace of God to our Neighbors”

I’d like to share with you a beautiful centering prayer for these times:
Prayer for a Pandemic
By Cameron Bellm
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those that have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country,
let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors.
Amen.
 
     Let us choose love, 
Pastor Laurie

Shelter-in-Place Virtual Worship Services and Gatherings

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

Virtual Worship, Bible Study and Prayer

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven… Now is the time for “shelter in place” here in the greater Bay Area. It is a time to refrain from embracing, i.e. physical distancing. And more than ever, it is a time for social and emotional connection.

Skyline is utilizing Zoom.us for our virtual worship services and weekly gatherings. Zoom links and numbers are listed below for accessing the events on your computer, your smart phone, or a regular phone call.

  1. Sunday Services are being delivered by Zoom Meeting at 10 AM.   (You will access all Sunday Zoom calls at this link or number)
    Sundays, 10:00 – 11:00am
    https://zoom.us/j/716026467
    Meeting ID: 716 026 467
    Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128
    Dial in by phone: 1-346-248-7799
    Video of past services will be available.  
    Here is a video of our Sunday, March 15 worship, recorded and edited by our very own Tom Manley!

  2. Pastor Laurie’s virtual bible study, Weekly on Tuesdays.  10:30 – 11:30 am.
    https://zoom.us/j/901784352
    Meeting ID: 901 784 352 One tap mobile
    Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128
    Dial in by phone: 1-346-248-7799

  3. Pastor Laurie’s Prayer, Care, and Share time, every Friday from ⋅1:00 – 2:00 pm.  Join us for a time of praying, caring, and sharing!   If you’re at home, you’re invited to light your own candle, so we’ll all have our candles together.  We’ll gather with a little meditative music, then spend some time lifting up our prayers together.  In this stressful and uncertain moment, perhaps we need to turn to prayer even more than usual.  Join us, breathe deep, and trust that the Spirit will be with us wherever we are.  Whenever two or three are gathered in the name of God, even gathered digitally, the Spirit is in the space between, connecting our hearts and strengthening us.  Hope to see you for our collective prayer:
    https://zoom.us/j/910815155
    Meeting ID: 910 815 155
    Dial in by phone 1-669-900-9128
    Dial in by phone: 1-346-248-7799 
 
 

“As serious as I know the Coronavirus is, I wish…”

I’d like to share with you, especially in this season of searching  for leaders and policies that represent and protect all people, these words of the Executive Minister of Justice and Witness for the UCC, The Rev Traci Blackmon:

Dear God,

As serious as I know the Coronavirus is…

I wish Poverty was classified as a deadly virus so the world would respond to the deaths of the 2.6 million people who die annually in the US alone with precautions to contain its effect and protect the most vulnerable among us.

I wish Racism was classified as a deadly virus so the world would begin studying its origin and its mutations and investing adequate resources in developing a response to completely eradicate the effects of this disease on all citizens, globally.

I wish Sexism was classified as a deadly virus so that literally 50% of this world’s population might receive the attention, investment, and escalation of time and resources necessary to remove it from society.

I wish Homophobia was classified as a deadly virus so those showing symptoms could be effectively screened and, if infected, quarantined to protect the rest of us from getting sick.

I wish Transphobia was classified as a deadly virus so that we might actually work to save lives by stopping the spread of this disease.

I wish Xenophobia was classified as a deadly virus so that we would finally isolate the right people instead of those just seeking a safe place to lay their heads.

Basically…I wish the pain, silencing and marginalization of so many were enough to move us to panic mode…with daily updates…and urgent precautions…and monetary allocations…dedicated people at every level…working together like ALL of our lives depended on it…because they do.

I wish we were as ready and willing to wash our souls as we are our hands.

Hear my prayer, oh Lord.
And grant my request.

May we wash our hands, and our souls! 

Blessings upon your week, Pastor Laurie 

Courage to Face the Diablo Winds of the World

As a child, I loved October as the fall foliage in New England transformed from tender green to fiery crimson and gold.

But seasons change and so do we.

Two years ago, on Oct 24th, my father died, letting go, like a leaf, falling gently to the earth.  In his memory, I had planned to attend a retreat, starting the evening of Oct 24th, in Geyserville.  That very same morning, Oct 24th, a PG&E transformer ignited a fire, during the deadliest of the Diablo winds. The epicenter, of all places, was in Geyserville. Had it been a day later, we would have been among the evacuees. The child within me asks, “was Dad watching over me?”

This time we were spared, while others were not. The Kincade fire is only 5% contained at the time of this writing, while others have started… and the Diablo winds continue, with more to come.

  • Evacuees… 180,000 people and rising,
  • Power outages for millions,
  • California is in a state of emergency.

It feels as if we are living in a war zone.  We try to carry on… as best we can… yet we are living with a sense of foreboding… because the Diablo winds will get worse. They say  this is becoming the new normal for us.

We are glued to the news… or trying to limit our intake of it.. worried that the fires may ignite here, haunted by memories of ever closer encounters with fires… 

I find myself haunted by the recurring dream that our beautiful Skyline church has burned down…that we are standing at the foundation in prayer, grateful for our lives,  looking out over a charred East Bay Regional Parks,  sharing photographs of this once beautiful place, filled with so many happy memories, where so many couples have come to get married and preschool children once played, and people once worshipped. Haunted by the reality that our beautiful sanctuary looks out at Mt Diablo.. We must face it… the Diablos..

God of life, we come again to this terrifying season of fires..
We pray for those who have lost their homes and businesses,
We pray for the people evacuated and those who shelter them,
We pray for those whose power has been cut off,
For those in nursing homes, and children with school cancelled, and life disrupted.
We pray for the firefighters.
We pray for ourselves,
to have the courage to face the diablos of the world,
the forces behind the winds of war, violence and destruction.
Give us the courage to do our part.
Inspire us, with the breath of life, to transform these diablos
into the winds of healing and peace.
Inspire us to transform this world into a place
where all people are safe from harm,
now and forever
       amen.

“Even there your hand shall lead me” Psalm 139

Psalm 139 is a breathtakingly beautiful testament to God’s constant, intimate presence in our lives. “If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.”
 
God is with us even in our darkness, even when we plunge into an abyss of doubt or depression or despair, even when we do wrong. Even our darkest darkness is as light with God. God turns our darkness into light. God turns our messy, wounded, flawed selves into healed and redeemed lives, and then God’s light shines through our stained glass into the world as pure love.
 
The Psalm ends with a plea to God. “See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” It is a plea to save us from unbelief, to help us believe the beautiful promise that God is with us always and forever.  The transfiguration story in Luke is also about the ability to believe.  Join us, this Sunday, as we worship together, praying to God to strengthen our belief so that we may see the truth of this beautiful vision unfolding around us…

Ash Wednesday Taize Service

Music, Prayer, Meditation, Candlelight, Silence, and Labyrinth Walking

Wednesday,  March 6, 7 – 8 pm

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent for many in the Christian church. The forty days begins with the imposition of ashes on the foreheads of the faithful. For many, it is deeply moving to reclaim this powerful ancient ceremony.

During the service, we will listen to and join in singing Taize chants, a form of meditative chant and silence, to quiet the mind, open the heart and feed the soul… time of quiet and solitude in the presence of God. A few words sung over and over again reinforce the meditative quality of prayer.

Leaders for the Evening:

Rev Laurie Manning and Music Director Benjamin Mertz

You are welcome, whoever you are and wherever you are on your life’s journey

“A song of peace for lands afar and mine…”

Photo by Matthew Huang on Unsplash


Next Monday we honor Memorial Day, a federal holiday set aside to remember the men and women who died while serving in our country’s armed forces.   I cannot help but lift up the beautiful words of Finlandia, which we will sing this Sunday: 
 
“This Is My Song”

Lloyd Stone and Georgia Harkness,  UM Hymnal, No. 437

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
a song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine;
but other hearts in other lands are beating
with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

This Sunday, join us as we lift up prayers not only for our country’s servicemen and women who have died, but all those who have died in the world because of war.  Here is a beautiful prayer, entitled  A Prayer for the World by Amy Petrie Shaw.